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LA approves Ombudsman Act, USG Code of Violations

The Legislative Assembly (LA) held its sixth regular session last May 14 to sign off resolutions on the implementation of the Ombudsman Act of 2021 and the University Student Government (USG) Code of Violations.

FAST2018 LA Representative Marts Madrelejos spearheaded additional changes to the resolution calling for the implementation of the Ombudsman Act based on suggestions provided by fellow lawmakers in their previous LA session. 

Madrelejos stated that the deadline for passing an individual’s summary of complaint has been changed from 72 hours to three working days as it “is easier for anyone who may read in the future to understand the limits and length of when the summary of the complaint should be submitted.”

Madrelejos also highlighted an additional clause that penalizes USG officers who delay or refuse to procure the documents or materials requested by the Office of the Ombudsman. This rule extends to any and all requests or subpoenas released by the aforementioned office.

Furthermore, the legislators defined the duration of temporary suspension for USG officers who have committed gross negligence, expanding it to a minimum of one term and a maximum of two terms.

Representatives also moved to approve the creation of the USG Code of Violations, a document that outlines the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman and the Judiciary Department’s Counsel Officers and defines violations that both offices can prosecute and investigate on. Among these violations listed are graft and corrupt, illegal disbursement of funds, betrayal of public trust, and gross misconduct.

The new rules cover USG officers, former USG officers, and “private individuals,” which the code defines as anyone outside of the USG—not just DLSU undergraduate students. The new guidelines are set to take effect on the first day of Term 1 of Academic Year 2021-2022. 

Revisions to the code cannot be taken until after two academic years, according to BLAZE2021 LA Representative Pia Beltrano. Revisions also require the consent of the Ombudsman Council.

EXCEL 2021 LA Representative Katkat Ignacio asked if the offenses will be reported to the Student Discipline Formation Office (SDFO) since most of the violations indicated in the code are also classified offenses in the Student Handbook. Judiciary Inspector General Elijah Flores clarified that this can happen if the violation is cognizant with the SDFO and “shall constitute gross misconduct.”

Meanwhile, representatives postponed discussions on a resolution calling for a statement on the Philippines’ COVID-19 vaccination plan to a later date as the proponents need to make improvements and address clarifications to other offices on the matter.

By Orville Apostol

By Chloe Novenario

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